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Enchiridion On Faith, Hope and Love
by Saint Augustine


CHAPTER XV

THE HOLY SPIRIT (56) AND THE CHURCH (57-60)

56. Now, when we have spoken of Jesus Christ, the only Son of God our Lord,

in the brevity befitting our confession of faith, we go on to affirm that we believe

also in the Holy Spirit, as completing the Trinity which is God; and after that we

call to mind our faith "in holy Church." By this we are given to understand that the

rational creation belonging to the free Jerusalem ought to be mentioned in a

subordinate order to the Creator, that is, the supreme Trinity. For, of course, all

that has been said about the man Christ Jesus refers to the unity of the Person of

the Only Begotten.

Thus, the right order of the Creed demanded110 that the Church be made

subordinate to the Trinity, as a house is subordinate to him who dwells in it, the

temple to God, and the city to its founder. By the Church here we are to understand

the whole Church, not just the part that journeys here on earth from rising of the

sun to its setting, praising the name of the Lord111 and singing a new song of

deliverance from its old captivity, but also that part which, in heaven, has always,

from creation, held fast to God, and which never experienced the evils of a fall. This

part, composed of the holy angels, remains in blessedness, and it gives help, even as

104Col. 3:1-3.

105Col. 3:4.

106John 5:29.

107Ps. 54:1.

108Cf. Matt. 25:32, 33.

109Ps. 43:1.

110Reading the classical Latin form poscebat (as in Scheel and PL) for the late form poxebat (as in

Riviere and many old MSS.).

111Cf. Ps. 113:3.


it ought, to the other part still on pilgrimage. For both parts together will make one

eternal consort, as even now they are one in the bond of love--the whole instituted

for the proper worship of the one God.112 Wherefore, neither the whole Church nor

any part of it wishes to be worshiped as God nor to be God to anyone belonging to

the temple of God--the temple that is being built up of "the gods" whom the

uncreated God created.113 Consequently, if the Holy Spirit were creature and not

Creator, he would obviously be a rational creature, for this is the highest of the

levels of creation. But in this case he would not be set in the rule of faith before the

Church, since he would then belong to the Church, in that part of it which is in

heaven. He would not have a temple, for he himself would be a temple. Yet, in fact,

he hath a temple of which the apostle speaks, "Know you not that your body is the

temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God?"114 In another

place, he says of this body, "Know you not that your bodies are members of

Christ?"115 How, then, is he not God who has a temple? Or how can he be less than

Christ whose members are his temple? It is not that he has one temple and God

another temple, since the same apostle says: "Know you not that you are the temple

of God," and then, as if to prove his point, added, "and that the Spirit of God

dwelleth in you?"

God therefore dwelleth in his temple, not the Holy Spirit only, but also

Father and Son, who saith of his body--in which he standeth as Head of the Church

on earth "that in all things he may be pre-eminent"116--"Destroy this temple and in

three days I will raise it up again."117 Therefore, the temple of God---that is, of the

supreme Trinity as a whole--is holy Church, the Universal Church in heaven and on

the earth.

57. But what can we affirm about that part of the Church in heaven, save

that in it no evil is to be found, nor any apostates, nor will there be again, since that

time when "God did not spare the sinning angels"--as the apostle Peter writes--"but

casting them out, he delivered them into the prisons of darkness in hell, to be

reserved for the sentence in the Day of Judgment"118?

58. Still, how is life ordered in that most blessed and supernal society? What

differences are there in rank among the angels, so that while all are called by the

general title "angels"--as we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, "But to which of the

angels said he at any time, 'Sit at my right hand'?"119; this expression clearly

signifies that all are angels without exception--yet there are archangels there as

well? Again, should these archangels be called "powers" [virtutes], so that the verse,

"Praise him all his angels; praise him, all his powers,"120 would mean the same

thing as, "Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his archangels"? Or, what

distinctions are implied by the four designations by which the apostle seems to

encompass the entire heavenly society, "Be they thrones or dominions,

principalities, or powers"121? Let them answer these questions who can, if they can

indeed prove their answers. For myself, I confess to ignorance of such matters. I am

not even certain about another question: whether the sun and moon and all the

stars belong to that same heavenly society--although they seem to be nothing more

112Here reading unum deum (with Rivière and PL) against deum (in Scheel).

113A hyperbolic expression referring to "the saints." Augustine's Scriptural backing for such an

unusual phrase is Ps. 82:6 and John 10:34f. But note the firm distinction between ex diis quos facit

and non factus Deus.

114I Cor. 6:19.

115I Cor. 6:15.

116Col. 1:18.

117John 2:19.

118II Peter 2:4 (Old Latin).

119Heb. 1:13.

120Ps. 148:2 (LXX).

121Co1. 1:16.


than luminous bodies, with neither perception nor understanding.

59. Furthermore, who can explain the kind of bodies in which the angels

appeared to men, so that they were not only visible, but tangible as well? And,

again, how do they, not by impact of physical stimulus but by spiritual force, bring

certain visions, not to the physical eyes but to the spiritual eyes of the mind, or

speak something, not to the ears, as from outside us, but actually from within the

human soul, since they are present within it too? For, as it is written in the book of

the Prophets: "And the angel that spoke in me, said to me..."122 He does not say,

"Spoke to me" but "Spoke in me." How do they appear to men in sleep, and

communicate through dreams, as we read in the Gospel: "Behold, the angel of the

Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying..."123? By these various modes of

presentation, the angels seem to indicate that they do not have tangible bodies. Yet

this raises a very difficult question: How, then, did the patriarchs wash the angels'

feet?124 How, also, did Jacob wrestle with the angel in such a tangible fashion?125

To ask such questions as these, and to guess at the answers as one can, is not

a useless exercise in speculation, so long as the discussion is moderate and one

avoids the mistake of those who think they know what they do not know.









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